- At first glance, Celestial Trax looks to be another player in the crowded scene of young producers making grime-influenced club music. Like many of the movement's most exciting names, he's somewhat removed from the sound's spiritual centre, London. Originally from the UK, he lives in New York, and his interest in American hip-hop (heard on last year's Stargate, for instance) further sets him apart from traditional grime. Vaxxilate, the second Celestial Trax record for Rinse, emphasizes his differences as it dismantles club music tropes and rebuilds them in off-kilter ways.
Take "Surrender": between kick drum blasts, Trax wheels out heavily manipulated vocals and synths that sound like the turn of a hand crank. The bouncy "KDH" ties its rhythmic thrust to the central melody, giving it a herky-jerky feel as it contorts. On "Piece By Piece," the record's most substantial tune, marching drums, nose-dive synths and staggered chords are thrown together as the arrangement rises and falls like it can barely hold itself up. Like the rest of Vaxxilate, it feels familiar, but surprises at almost every turn; at its best, "Piece By Piece" recalls some of the zanier music coming out of Lisbon. Lastly, "Pheliac" is a sort of tribal-trap song that furrows into an emotional outro just when you think it's over—an elegiac end that marks the final twist on an engaging EP full of them.
02. Piece by Piece